Do You Get the Best Return on your Graphic Design Expenses?

99designs logoAs marketers, we all try to stretch our marketing dollars (especially in these tough economic times). And even if you have a huge marketing budget, I cannot understand why you would want to pay a premium when you can get the same product or service for a fraction of the price…

Graphic design could potentially be a major expense in your marketing budget because to access these services, you typically need to go through an agency for which you have to pay for their big corporate office in a downtown location, nice cappuccino machine, enhanced receptionist, designer chairs, creative director, chief strategist and so on so forth. 😉 Do you get what you are paying for? Sometimes yes, but very often no. If you are already dealing with freelancers, then you are limited by their time constraints and also the number of choices they can propose.

About 1 year ago, I tried 99designs. It was just to create a small logo to be applied on the web sites of our customers with the mention « Authorized Dealer ». I did not want to spend 10k on that but still, I wanted something that looked professional in a timely manner. I was very pleased with the results. In the recent weeks, I have launched 2 design contests on their site and I am amazed with the results. Even one of my twitter friend @NicolasRoberge just launched a contest here based on our experience.

What is 99designs?

99designs is a disruptive startup which connects passionate designers from around the globe with savvy clients who need design projects completed in a timely fashion without the usual risk or cost associated with professional design. In my own words, you don’t want to pay big bucks but you want to have some alternate designs for your projects. You would not be able to explore as much design alternatives with one single agency at a decent cost.

They reach more than 41k graphic designers worldwide. Talking about diversity… They literally do design crowd-sourcing and the big winner is YOU, not your agency.

How it works?

Prior to submit a project, make sure you know what you want. Be as clear as possible about what you are looking for. Once you have that it is easy as 1-2-3.

123_99_designs

Depending on the complexity of your project, you will be ask to select among 4 different package levels (This was not there 1 year ago and it is a nice improvement for both the clients and the designers)

99Design_Screenshot_1

Once the contest is launched, be prepared to receive tons of designs like in the following examples for which we received more than one hundred designs to choose from in less than 3 days. We wanted to have a logo for one of collection of basic items named « Smart Basics ».

99 Designs Smart Basics Screen Shot

As the contest moves forward, you can rate the received designs and give feedback to the designers to help them rectify their proposals if necessary. It also helps the other designers to submit designs that are most likely to fit your needs.

You can visit their blog here or become a Twitter follower here.

My profile on 99designs is: http://99designs.com/people/etiennechabot or just click here.

So, what do you think? For me, this has been a revelation. This is true example that the web connects people. This is also a true example that if you run a graphic design agency, your new competitors are global, flexible and very competitive. To me, in a small company, why should I deal with one graphic firm and pay the big price when I can have access to the top graphic designers in the world for a fraction of the price? Welcome to the new world.

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So, What the F**K is Social Media?

I am a strong believer of the power of Social Media. I try to envision Social Media as a complement to traditional media although I believe that one day, Social Media will have completely changed our media consumption behaviors to the point where traditional media will be unprofitable for the media companies nor completely ineffective for the advertisers. But in the meantime, traditional media is necessary for many brands to reach their segments. (I did not say convert…)
Social Media is cool and hype but can be more that just that. It can also be profitable for your business. I recently shared with you that you can generate qualified leads with Social Media. We see more and more top brands using social media effectively. Even hard rock music bands use social media to enhance their presence and grow their fan base. Fine, but you will say, I am not working for a big corporate cheesy organization and I am not managing the rock band that will kick Bono’s ass, (like the vast majority of marketing managers in North America) should I be spending time in Social Media? YES! As I mention in one of my  post (in French), I think there are even more benefits to embrace social media if you work in a Small Business. You can also get other arguments why I think SMEs have no reasons to post-pone social media initiatives here.
In one of my recent post, I briefly discussed how to sell Social Media to your boss:

If you are about to go through the difficult task of selling the idea of Social Media to your boss nor to the management team of your company. …  I highly recommend that you “invest” 1hr of your time to present social media the right way. Download Chris Brogan’s presentation and watch the video here.

Today, I have found this great presentation via SlideShare. Before you get your act together to demonstrate the incredible power of Social Media to your boss, have a look at this self-explanatory slide show. Nice pics, nice stats. Very convincing. Fits perfectly the Garr Reynolds‘ Presentation Zen Principles. Find them here in pdf.  By the way, they chose the title: What the F**k is Social Media: One Year Later.

Note: It has been created by an Agency named Espresso Brand Infiltration but trust me, it doesn’t look like an infomercial to sell their services… 😉 Also I haven’t received any commission to insert their presentation here!

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4 min of Anti-Stress Therapy-Thérapie Anti-Stress de 4min

Check out this wonderful clip by Jon Rawlinson shot at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan. The music is « Please don’t go » by Barcelona.

It needs to be watched in HD on youtube. 4 minutes to escape your daily tasks.

Un merveilleux clip de Jon Rawlinson filmé à l’Aquarium Okinawa Churaumi au Japon. La musique est « Please Don’t Go » par Barcelona. Pour l’apprécier à sa juste valeur, on le regarde en HD sur youtube. 4 minutes pour s’évader un peu de notre quotidien…

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Linkin Park’s Powerful Usage of Web

These guys rule! I obviously love their music but, as a marketer, I’ve got to admit they are far ahead in their usage of new technologies to spread their music, content and build/maintain legions of fans. I recently visited their web site and I have found this very nice widget. (You do not know what is a widget? Come here.)
This well designed piece of code makes it very easy for any Linkin Park fan to share and broadcast their new stuff on a Facebook page, MySpace profile or like here, on a wordpress.com blog. You can basically use it on ANY social networking platform. Yes, they « use » their fan base to promote their new stuff but it is done in a very appropriate manner in my opinion. It is not invasive. You decide to share it with your friends or readers. With almost no effort,  it gives access to great video footage of behind the scenes stuff with the band. See by yourself by exploring it below. Put the volume on, it is off by default.

The good old days of the music industry might be behind us. However, it is very encouraging to observe bands like Linkin Park, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails which dare to be different and explore new ways to put their content and music in the hands of their fans. This kind of tactic is undoubtedly a great way to get closer to fans/customers. Artists are probably the best candidates to leverage such tools, especially new emerging artists. For artists who are already known, by removing barriers in sharing great stuff with their fans, they reinforce the relationship and create that special intangible bonding that makes you decide to buy tickets when they are on tour, order a T-Shirt on the web or buy that unique DVD with special features…

In the long run, that will pay off. What is the lifetime value of a fan?

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Social Media to Generate Qualified Leads? Yes, it is possible!

Yesterday, I attended this great webinar given by @RickBurnes, Marketing Manager at Hubspot. He obviously talks about the power of social media to generate traffic to your site (s) but in this one, he emphasizes on the importance to convert these visitors into customers. The proposed approaches are simple and effective.
If you are about to go through the difficult task of selling the idea of Social Media to your boss nor to the management team of your company. I recently did it. It went well but it would have been better if I had grabbed this stuff before 😉 I also highly recommend that you « invest » 1hr of your time to present social media the right way. Download Chris Brogan‘s presentation and watch the video here. Remember, you only have one chance to make a good first impression and Social Media is often perceived as a funny thing not serious enough to be related to « real » business. You need to break this paradigm prior to any action in social media.

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5 Outstanding and Inspiring Corporate Blogs

iMediaConnection.com has tons of great resources for Social Media Marketers like me who are learning everyday about  new communication/conversation techniques. I am always looking for nice examples of Corporate Blogs. Most of the blogs I have seen so far were BIG Corporation blogs. The following article by Chris Bagott is characterized by blogs maintained by relatively small companies  which have given outstanding results for their owners. Enjoy! Click here to access the article.

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Le Québec a choisi son meuble le plus laid

Ca y est, c’est terminé. Le concours s’est clôturé mardi le 30 juin et nous avons tourné la vidéo de remise de prix au domicile du gagnant le 1er juillet, journée nationale des déménagements. Le grand gagnant est Francois Mercier de Laval, heureux  propriétaire de l’Affreuse Lampe Bleue. Voyez la video faite chez le gagnant ci-bas.

Il s’est mérité:

  • Un mobilier de chambre de son choix parmi les collections offertes par Meubles Rive Sud.
  • Les services de décoration intérieure d’une des pièces de sa maison, gracieuseté de Meubles Rive Sud
  • 6 pizzas extra-larges une gracieuseté de Restaurant Mikes
  • 3 Caisses de Bière une gracieuseté de Carlsberg ( 3 caisses de 24 bouteilles x 330 ml.)

La gagnant a su gagner la sympathie des internautes québécois entre autres en ré-activant une page web qu’il avait créée pour la bête il y a quelques années, en créant un film dramatique mettant en vedette sa fameuse lampe ainsi qu’en s’impliquant fortement dans notre forum de discussion afin de défendre SA pièce d’anthologie du musée des horreurs.

Pour le palmarès des 10 Meubles les plus laids du Québec, édition 2009, rendez-vous sur la page créée à cet effet. Nous avons même créé un widget vous permettant d’ajouter le palmarès à votre blogue ou votre site web.

Merci à tous les internautes québécois pour leur généreuse participation. Sans votre folie, ce concours n’aurait jamais pu obtenir autant de succès. Vous nous avez tenu occupés!

Quelques statistiques:

  • 62 meubles enregistrés
  • Environ 1000 commentaires entre les 8 et 30 juin 2009. Vous nous avez bien fait rire 😉
  • Plus de 10000 votes
  • Une seule Affreuse Lampe Bleue!

Merci aussi à tous les blogueurs et journalistes qui ont supporté notre initiative à mesure qu’elle se dévoilait. Je leur exprime toute ma gratitude dans un billet précédent. Sans vous, cette première initiative web 2.0 n’aurait pas connu le même succès.

Alors je vous dis à l’année prochaine avec une édition encore plus débridée de la Foire aux Meubles de Meubles Rive Sud!

PS: Pour les habitués de mon blogue, vous avez constaté que j’ai été moins assidu dans ma production de billets ces derniers jours. Disons que cette campagne a occupé pas mal tous mes temps libres ;-). Je reviendrai donc en juillet avec une fréquence de publication plus habituelle. Au plaisir de vous relire ici ou ailleurs.

Bon été!

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